Apple Credit Card Review: Earn Cash Back on Tech Purchases

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The Apple Credit Card offers 3% cash back on Apple purchases.
Image Credit: Clark.com / Apple

Are you the type of person who is first in line for the latest and greatest Apple product?

Then you might see some benefit from adding the Apple Credit Card to your wallet. It offers 3% cash back on products you buy directly through Apple, and offers bonus cash back for all purchases you make with the Apple Pay digital wallet.

But are those perks enough for you to choose this card over a cash back card that offers unlimited everyday rewards on all purchases?

Team Clark is here to help you learn more about the Apple Credit Card and determine if it is a better fit for your wallet than cards like the Citi Double Cash or PayPal Cashback Mastercard.


Table of Contents

Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Apple Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that this one is a viable choice — thanks to its bonus cash back categories and lack of an annual fee.

As you’re evaluating whether this card fits your needs, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.


What Is the Apple Card?

The Apple Card is a no-annual-fee cash back credit card that is issued by Goldman Sachs bank. The branded card is promoted as a way to connect your day-to-day purchases seamlessly with your iPhone or iPad.

The hook for this card is that you’ll earn 3% cash back on purchases made directly through Apple, which theoretically could yield a nice return on their premium-priced phones, computers and more. It also offers 3% cash back at select partner stores and websites. We’ll get into that a little more later.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to applying for this credit card is that you have to have an Apple iPhone or iPad to do it. (FYI: If you click to apply on the Apple website, you’ll reach a page telling you to use your iPhone or iPad to apply with a video on how to do that.)

For Android loyalists, this probably brings you to a full stop on applying for this card.

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Apple will send you a physical credit card to use in where Apple Pay is not accepted, but the goal of this card clearly is to get you comfortable with using an Apple device to buy and manage your purchases. You must use the wallet app on your iPhone or iPad to access the card and its payment, statement and redemption components.


Apple Credit Card: Specs and Perks

Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks:

Cash Back Categories

The cash back rewards for this card are tiered between 1% on everyday purchases all the way up to 3% on purchases made directly from select retailers.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

3% cash back rewards can be earned on Apple Pay purchases made directly through these brands on their websites/apps or at their stores:

  • Apple Store or Apple.com (This includes the App Store and Apple services.
  • Panera Bread
  • Uber Eats
  • T-Mobile
  • Exxon or Mobil
  • Nike
  • Walgreens

2% cash back rewards can be earned on any purchase made with Apple Pay.

1% cash back rewards can be earned on non-Apple Pay purchases everywhere else.

Cardholder Benefits

You Can Get a Titanium Card With No Numbers: You read that right. Apple will issue you a titanium credit card (actual titanium, not plastic) that doesn’t have credit card numbers on it. This card, which is the only non-Apple Pay way to spend, must be requested through the Apple wallet app on your iPhone. Apple claims that this card “is more secure than other credit cards because it has no card numbers on it, CVV security code, expiration date, or signature on it.” Instead, your information is stored in the wallet app. So if you lose the card and then quickly disable it, theoretically it would useless to those with malicious intent.

The Apple Card is made out of titanium.
Apple.com

Apple Offers Monthly Installment Payment Options on Its Products: If you’re looking for an introductory period for 0% APR on all new purchases or balance transfers, you’re going to be disappointed with the Apple Card. I couldn’t find any such offers. However, I did uncover the option for select Apple Card customers to get 0% APR financing with monthly installment payments for some new purchases made on Apple products.

The Apple Card allows customer to pay for select purchases in monthly installments.
Apple.com

Occasionally You’ll Find a Welcome Bonus Opportunity: Though the offers seem to come and go quickly, and they don’t offer big bucks, you can find a welcome bonus for the Apple Card from time to time. For example, in the summer of 2020 Apple offered a $50 welcome bonus promotion for spending at Walgreens. More recently, the offer was a  $75 welcome bonus to customers who spent money at Nike during the first 30 days of card membership.

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Apple offered a welcome bonus to new card holders that made purchases at Nike.
Apple.com

Cardholder Fees

Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the Apple Card:

  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None.
  • Late Payment Fee: None, but Apple does say that “late or missed payments will result in additional interest accumulating toward your balance.”

Apple Card vs. Citi Double Cash and PayPal Cashback Mastercard

If you’re considering a cash back credit card, you’re likely looking for a card that is going to optimize your rewards based on your spending habits.

To determine if the Apple Card is actually your best option, I compared this card to two likely suitable alternatives.

The Citi Double Cash and PayPal Cashback Rewards card each offer unlimited 2% cash back on everyday purchases.

Quick Comparison

Credit Card PerkApple CardCiti Double CashPayPal Cashback Mastercard
Annual Fee$0$0$0
Intro Period for 0% APR on Balance TransfersNone18 monthsNone
Cash Back Rewards3% on purchases at Apple and select retailers; 2% on purchases made with Apple Pay; 1% on all other purchasesUp to 2% unlimited (1% when you purchase, 1% when you pay your bill) Unlimited 2%
Cash Back Balance Redemption MinimumNo minimum$25No minimum
Cash Back Redemption MethodThrough Apple Wallet app as either Apple Cash credit or statement creditCheck, statement credit, credit to linked bank account, or credit card pointsVia linked PayPal account: Debit card or bank account credit
Intro Period for 0% APR on New PurchasesNoneNoneNone
Welcome Bonus OpportunityLimited time offers based on spending with partner retailersNoneTargeted email offers only
Foreign Transaction FeesNone3%None
Apple App RatingNot rated4.9 out of 54.8 out of 5
Google App RatingN/A4.6 out of 54.3 out of 5

Spending Analysis

To really determine which card is for you, it’s probably best to do a quick analysis of your monthly spending habits to see how many 3% opportunities you’ll find with the Apple Card. And conversely, you should determine if your spending habits require you to use a physical credit card most of the time, because that would drop your Apple cash back rewards to 1%.

Since both the Citi and PayPal cards offer a straight 2% cash back, it should be pretty easy to arrive at an answer.

For example, let’s say you bought an iPhone through Apple once per year ($1,000) and paid your $100 wireless bill through T-Mobile with the card each month. Those are both 3% category purchases.

If you spend that $2,200 on an Apple Card, it would only net you $22 more than making the same purchases with the Citi or PayPal cards.

And in that scenario, if you spent more than $2,200 in physical card transactions throughout the year, you’d actually earn less total cash back with the Apple Card versus the two others. That’s because of the drop to 1% in cash back when you use the physical card.

Again, you’ll want to run your own spending analysis before moving forward with any of the card applications.

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Clark Howard Prefers the Security of a “Locked” Cash Back Rate

If you don’t immediately see a clear benefit for using the Apple Card in your daily life, there’s a good chance you’ll be better served by a credit card that is not so heavily weighted on working within the confines of the Apple ecosystem.

Money expert Clark Howard prefers the certainty of an unlimited cash back credit card. He has both the Citi Double Cash and the Navy Federal cashRewards cards in his wallet. Each of those cards rewards all of his purchases with an unlimited 2% cash back without restriction.

Clark says he views it as though he’s getting a 2% discount on everything he buys. And as an Android user, Clark does not have a need for the added Apple benefits this card offers.


Final Thoughts

Are you considering adding the Apple Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:

Apple Card: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
3% cash back opportunities at Apple and select other retailers An Apple iPhone or iPad is required to apply for the credit card
2% cash back if you use Apple Pay Only 1% cash back on traditional credit card transactions
Very few fees for this card, including no annual fee The welcome bonus offers pale in comparison to similar cards

Bottom Line: If you are the type of consumer who plans to make the majority of your daily purchases through a digital wallet like Apple Pay, you could expect to receive at least 2% cash back on many of your purchases with this card.

However, it is worth noting that there are other cards on the market, such as the Citi Double Cash and PayPal Cashback Mastercard, that already award you 2% cash back on all purchases without any restrictions.

For everyone but the most dedicated of Apple customers, it may make sense to simply rely on one of those cash back credit cards instead of cornering yourself into paying with your Apple digital wallet.

Do you have experience with the Apple Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!

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